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Man saved in ‘miracle’ rescue amid floods in southwest France

Several weeks’ worth of rain falls overnight around the Pyrenees, and the adverse weather conditions are set to continue today 

Parts of southwestern France have experienced severe flooding overnight Pic: jgolby / Shutterstock

Areas of southwest France have been hit by two to three weeks’ worth of rain in just 12 hours, with towns and villages being flooded and several people having to be rescued overnight.

Some 120 litres of rain fell overnight in some places, in a period of precipitation which is being described by Météo France as “remarkable in duration and quantity.”

A 72-year-old man was saved from the floods in a “miracle” rescue by a lifeguard team in Castelnau-Chalosse (Landes), after getting trapped while walking his dogs. 

The rescue crew had to swim to reach him but he was eventually found unhurt, clinging to a tree. His dogs were also discovered safe and sound. 

In Cambo-les-Bains (Pyrénées-Atlantiques), the level of the river Nive rose by nearly one metre during the night, moving from 4.86m at 21:20 to 5.73m at 06:00 this morning.

Drivers in this area have found themselves stuck in their cars amid rising water levels and 130 fire and rescue workers have been mobilised “as a precaution.”

Crews were called to around 100 incidents and nine people had to be rescued from floods.

This morning (December 10), Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Hautes-Pyrénées, Haute-Garonne, Ariège, Gers and Landes remain under orange alerts for heavy rain and/or flooding. These warnings will last throughout the day and into tomorrow.

Read more: Heavy rain, floods, snow, ice: 11 French departments on orange alert

In mountainous areas, this precipitation will take the form of heavy snowfall.

In the east of France, Ain, Savoie and Haute-Savoie are also under weather alerts for snow and ice, while several departments have been put on an avalanche warning.

Weather conditions are being aggravated by streams of warm, wet air which carry water vapour with them and result in heavy rain. 

The snow currently falling across the Pyrenees and Alps will also contribute to rising river levels in the coming days.

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